Three reasons why Carson Palmer will remain a Bengal

Cincinnati Bengals Carson Palmer throws a pass in the third quarter against the New York Jets in week 12 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on November 25, 2010. The Jets defeated the Bengals 26-10. UPI /John Angelillo

The National Football Post is reporting that Carson Palmer is still serious about his request to be traded this offseason. Teammate Andrew Whitworth even went as far as to say that the quarterback “wouldn’t speak out unless it was something he was serious about.”

But a trade or outright release still seems highly unlikely at this point. Things can change rather quickly in the NFL so I’m not suggesting that there’s zero chance that Palmer could play elsewhere next season, but here are three reasons I believe he’ll remain a Bengal.

1. His contract.
Palmer signed a six-year, $118.75 million contract extension in 2005. He’s set to make $11.5 million the next two years, $13 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014 before he becomes a free agent in 2015. He’s 31 and hasn’t been the same quarterback since he suffered that knee injury in the 2004 playoffs. How can the Bengals convince any team to take on his salary and part with a draft pick(s)? Unless Palmer were to take a significant pay cut and/or the Bengals were willing to accept less value for a starting quarterback (which Palmer still is, regardless of his struggles the past couple of seasons), he won’t be moved. Releasing him is still an option, but keep in mind that the Bengals are the ones that want to retain him. It’s Palmer who wants out.

2. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco will be gone.
When Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell were his starting receivers the last two weeks of the season, Palmer put up his best numbers of the year and actually looked like he was having fun again. Maybe the having fun part is a misconception but it’s not hard to believe that Palmer is worn out from playing with guys like Ochocinco, T.O. and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They’re always open, they always want the ball and they’re always in either Palmer or Marvin Lewis’ ear. But Owens (a free agent) probably won’t be back and Houshmandzadeh is long gone, which only leaves Ochocinco. There have been conflicting reports about whether or not the Bengals want to keep the Ocho for next year. But when you consider he’s 33, his production has started to decline, he’s scheduled to make $6 million in the final year of his contract and he can be a headache, it would appear that there’s only a slim chance he’ll return next season. If the Bengals can guarantee Palmer that he doesn’t have to deal with some of the distractions that he’s had to put up with his entire career, it stands to reason that he would give Cincinnati another try.

3. Jay Gruden.
The Bengals fired Bob Bratkowski as offensive coordinator and hired Jay Gruden to provide a spark to the offense. In Bratkowski’s system, the receiver’s routes took time to develop, which meant Palmer had to sit in the pocket and was seemingly always under duress. But Gruden’s system is designed for the quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quickly and is much more quarterback-friendly (as was Jon Gruden’s West Coast Offense in Tampa Bay and Oakland). Thus, if the Bengals could rid themselves of T.O. and Ochocinco and provide Palmer with a more quarterback-friendly system, it may rejuvenate him. (Then the team doesn’t have to worry about drafting a signal caller at No. 4 when they have so many other needs to address.) Of course, the Bengals still have to part ways with Ochocinco and convince Palmer that things will be better, but hey, it’s a long offseason. They have some time.

Comment Starter: Will Palmer remain a Bengal or will the team look to trade or release him this offseason?

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Would Palmer benefit from the Bengals dumping Ochocinco?

There have already been reports that the Bengals won’t bring back Terrell Owens next season. And if they believe that Carson Palmer’s success Sunday against the Chargers was, in part, of both T.O. and Chad Ochocinco not being in the lineup, then they may part with The Ocho next season, too.

Palmer had his best game of the season on Sunday in absence of T.O. and Ochocinco, who were both nursing injuries. He completed 16-of-21 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage of 76.2 and his QB rating of 157.2 was his highest of the season – by far. It was also the most touchdown passes he’s thrown in a single game this year and he didn’t throw an interception.

Granted, it was only one game. And one game is too small a serving size to draw any conclusions about whether or not Palmer is a better quarterback with or without Ochocinco, T.O., T.J. Houshmandzadeh or whatever other receiver that isn’t afraid to express his desire to need the ball. But it’s somewhat telling that Palmer had his best game with T.O. and Ochocinco standing on the sideline. This wasn’t the Redskins or Panthers that Palmer lit up either – it was the San Diego Chargers, the top ranked defense in the league.

T.O. had season-ending surgery a week ago and Ochocinco may not play next week either. It’ll be interesting to see how Palmer plays against a Ravens team that is still fighting for first place in the AFC North. If he’s efficient, then maybe the Bengals need to consider taking a longer look at keeping Palmer and jettisoning Ochocinco. After all, this team is long overdue for an offensive makeover and maybe getting rid of Palmer isn’t the answer like some are suggesting.

Again, it was only one game and there are plenty of reasons to think that Palmer isn’t, and hasn’t been the same player since suffering that knee injury in 2004. That said, it’ll still be interesting to watch him play next week without worrying about appeasing any of his receivers.

Will Ochocinco be back with Bengals in 2011?

On Tuesday night’s episode of the “T.Ocho Show,”Chad Ochocinco discussed the possibility of not returning to the Bengals. He sees “significant” changes being made for the 2011 season and he doesn’t know if the team will retain him.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Says Ochocinco about next season: “I’d love to see Terrell come back next year. As far as myself, I don’t even know if I’ll be back next year. … Changes will be made and they’ll be significant.”

Some pundits believe that the Bengals are unlikely to pick up Ocho’s $6 million option for next year. The team has to make decisions about whether or not to retain other key offensive players such as Cedric Benson and Carson Palmer and may not want to spend $6 million to keep a receiver when a makeover is paramount.

Offensively, the Bengals have been inconsistent the past two years. The one thing they had going for them on that side of the ball last year was that they could run. But after spending the offseason trying to upgrade the passing game with the additions of T.O. and rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham, the entire offense has taken a step backwards. Now Cincinnati is to the point where it has to consider gutting the whole thing and starting from scratch.

Will that require jettisoning players like Ochocinco and Palmer? Maybe.

Bengals not expected to bring back Terrell Owens

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 05: Terrell Owens  of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Saints won 34-30. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Terrell Owens can probably thank his mouth for why he’ll be searching for work once again next offseason.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bengals are not expected to re-sign T.O., who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against the Browns. But it’s not the knee that will cost him a new contract, or his production for that matter. (He proved this season that he still has plenty left in the tank.)

The Bengals couldn’t have appreciated the way Owens blamed the coaching staff two weeks ago for the team’s offensive struggles.

“I think there is underachieving you know from the top down,” Owens said. “You start off with the owner, you start off with the coaches and obviously we as players. We are a product of what the coaches are doing, are coaching us throughout the course of the week. Of course we have to go out there and play the game but in order for us to do what we’re allowed to do at the best of our ability the coaches have to put the players in the best position.”

Of course, I still maintain that he didn’t blast his coaching staff. That’s the way the story is being perceived but just as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, this is T.O. Lite in comparison to what normally comes out of his mouth.

Still, the Bengals might be looking for a new identity next year and they’ll make Owens a thing of their past. They have decisions to make regarding Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson’s future and can’t be bothered with an aging receiver who will speak his mind when the team is losing. They need to head in a new direction next season and not bringing back T.O. is a step in that direction.

Terrell Owens sounds off about Bengals’ front office, coaches

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Terrell Owens  of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What, did you really think T.O. would go through an entire 16-game losing season and not say a word?

On the latest installment of the T.Ocho Show on Versus (side note: Does anyone watch that show? I can count on zero fingers how many people I know that do.), Ochocinco asked Owens why the Bengals are 2-11.

Not surprisingly, T.O. had an answer.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I think there is underachieving you know from the top down,” Owens said. “You start off with the owner, you start off with the coaches and obviously we as players. We are a product of what the coaches are doing, are coaching us throughout the course of the week. Of course we have to go out there and play the game but in order for us to do what we’re allowed to do at the best of our ability the coaches have to put the players in the best position.”

I’ve seen headlines that read, “T.O. blasts coaching staff,” in reference to the quotes above. But I’ve read what he said about four times now and honestly, I don’t think he’s specifically calling out his coaching staff. And in the grand spectrum of things, this is T.O. Lite in comparison to the stuff that usually comes out of his mouth.

It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on with the Bengals. The entire franchise has had a losing mentality since the late 80s and while they’ve had moments over the past two decades (2004, 2009), they’ve largely been stuck in a massive rut. They thought they found a capable head coach in Marvin Lewis to turn things around and it looks like he isn’t the answer. They thought they found a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer to lift the franchise out of the doldrums and he hasn’t been the same since the hit he took in the ’04 playoffs.

But it’s not just the head coach and it’s not just the quarterback – it’s a collection of things that have led the Bengals to this point. The players aren’t executing, the game plans that the coaches are putting together are failing miserably and the ownership doesn’t have a clue how to turn things around. And unfortunately for all parties involved, there seemingly are no answers and no solutions.

Actually, there is one solution but Mike Brown has been unwilling to agree to it: they need to hire a general manager. Hire a good general manager (I’m sure the Patriots have one lying around in their film room), allow him to pick his head coach and then find a quarterback. Once those three things are in place, maybe the ball will get rolling forward for once instead of backwards onto the legions of fans that still mercifully support this team.

I know it’s easier said than done, but at what point does Mike Brown punch a hole through his drawing board and start over?

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